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Friday, October 21, 2016

A Visitation and a Vigil

I have written before about T, a former GED student, in a blog last February about "Courage."  She was my inspiration when I needed courage.  We have continued to have contact via Facebook.

Two weeks ago I saw a Facebook posting from someone else directed to her that made me aware of a death in her family.   I went to her postings and saw that she lost her father.   A few days later the obituary appeared in the South Bend Tribune with a notice about the visitation.

I went to the church and waited a bit for the family to arrive.  I was able to speak briefly with T and give her a hug.  She seemed stunned but thanked me for coming by name so I knew she was aware of my being there.  I messaged her later via FB and she thanked me for my encouragement and said her father was the only one who really cared for her.

A few days later, I was shocked to get an email forwarded through our church from the larger religious community here in South Bend inviting us to a prayer vigil for JG, a homicide victim.  This was T's father.  I had no idea his death was a violent one.  I did not ask T how he died.  It wasn't the time or place to do so.  I grieved for her even more.  This was not the first violent death in her life.

Last evening Jim and I stood with our umbrellas in hand and prayed along with about ten others in front of the house were JG was stabbed.   There were pictures of him on the tree along with some artificial flowers below.  We followed a liturgy with prayers and Psalm 23 and there was time for spontaneous prayers.  I prayed for T and her sons in their "overwhelming loss" as the liturgy had previously stated.  Others prayed for peace in our city.   There will be two more such vigils in the next two weeks because since JG was murdered, there have been more violent deaths.

I will send T copies of the liturgy.  I hope they will give her some strength and comfort--and the courage that she will continue to need.  I am thankful for the small group of people who pray regularly at these vigils.  I pray that they will not be needed.

A post-script.  There was no published news about an investigation into JG's death.  I asked our friend Joel Gabrielse about it.  As I suspected, he was stabbed in self-defense.  That makes it even more sad in many ways.

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